Sunday, January 28, 2007

Permaculture course May 2007

Chickenshack housing co-op had its January quarterly meeting this week and have formally agreed that we are going ahead with our full permaculture design course again this year. So its all hands on deck as it were, as we want to create better facilites than last year and improve on the practical sessions as well. Last year's event was very successful, with a wonderful group of students, check the blog for May last year to see some of the photos if you are interested. However, the weather was really tough last year, windy and wet for the first 8 or 9 days, unseasonally so for May, hence this year we are aiming to leave a lot less to chance.

We are planning to have at least one and maybe two 16 foot Yurts (Mongolian Ger) - which is a round tent-like structure with insulated felt lined walls, as well as taking up on a generous offer from friends from the Llanfylln festival who are offering to help build the site facilites for us.

Students will also be able to use facilities in the house as well, but we are really pulling the stops out in terms of creating more comfort and refuge, if the weather is as bad again.

After the rigours of 9 days of wind and rain last year, it ended up in a heatwave and drought that went on for the next couple of months, so there is no knowing what we have to prepare for.

Teachers include chickenshack's very own steve Jones, who has been building forest gardens in schools over the last few months and Bristol permaculture's ever busy Sarah Pugh. Who, we are expecting on a field visit this weekend, with the current course she is teaching there. Field trips we are planning include visiting a couple of permaculutre plots locally, as well as the centre for Alternative Technology and Dulas ltd - a leading innovator in the field of renwable energy and more. Practical session with Steve Pickup from the www.thewillowbank.com who is a leading landscape artist, working with living willow structures, plus lots more!

Anyone interested please get in touch, we are looking forward to hearing from you

Friday, January 19, 2007

Bush U turn on climate change

[I have just posted this on my Myspace blog as well, but i thought I would put it here as well... ]


According to my news paper G W Bush and his oil baron friends are getting ready for a U turn on climate change…. So its like, well you know we heard all this evidence that we might be bringing about the end of the world as we know it… but we weren't 100% sure; so we thought we would wait as long as possible before we react to the issue.. well seeing as we are making a lot of money in the time being…

Well thanks guys and welcome to the party, we were wondering if you were going to come at all.

So now before we all starting chucking our hats into the air in celebration, I am still a bit suspicious that what they have in mind is still well off what is actually going to happen. Don't hold your breath for GW to come up with an answer.

Here is the nub… with population and development both running rampage as it were, whatever we do we are still going to carry on a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere… even slowing down the rate of increase in emissions is going to be hard .. let alone rolling them back. Now get this, if we listen to the climate scientists then they are talking about an eventual reduction of 90%. Or something like a 7% reduction in emissions every year for the next 30 - 40 years.

That really is a big change. So how do we do it?

Well here's the theory, with renewables then energy becomes is unlimited, potentially nearly free, but, it occurs in a not very dense form. Its diffused throughout the environment. So what we must aim for is to develop lifestyles and technologies that are in them selves hugely more resource efficient, and powered by extremely small amounts of energy. With technology and a radical rethink on the nature of consumerism, (i.e converting it into re-cyclism) then we can do that, and have sophisticated lifestyles… but and this is a big but, the problem is how do we get there from here. We have expanding aspirational economies in the largest and least developed nations, Ie China, India and Brazil, and the only thing that will feed and cloth those populations and give them the security to stop needing to have large families, for their economies to stabilise, is economic growth and that is going to hit us all right where it hurts.

Wealthier developed Northern nations now have the resources, money and know how to rapidly transform into Eco- economies, with plenty of wealth, stable populations and squeaky clean eco technologies. We have the possibility of achieving far higher standards of living by chucking out our gas guzzling flagrant lifestyles of the last century. However, how do we get those emerging nations over the peak of destructive environmentally damaging phase of growth and into the post industrial age. Its going to be a challenge for the western nations to do it, but for the rest? Well that is exactly the point.

Total global environmental damage is going to look like a parabola, a up and down line on a graph with a definite peak. The sooner we can reach that peak and get over the other side the better, left unchecked we already know that the a climate change meltdown scenario is inevitable…. Our actions right now are what is going to determine the trajectory of that line.

We are certainly going to witness a huge amount of environmental turbulence in these coming years, we may see mass extinctions and mass migrations of people as land is swallowed up, but we do get to determine how bad it gets in the long run. What we decide now is what is going to make the real difference in the long term. Its about degrees of badness… the longer we ignore it the worse it gets..

We don't need any more evidence we don't need anyone's permission, we have to begin right now, if we haven't. There is no need to wait for politicians to make their minds up… we simply need to start behaving differently, everything else will follow.

This is the bit that makes me irate really, is there sheer amount of time our politicians have wasted doing precious little or even actually nothing for so long while the evidence has rolled in. we need people with imagination and leadership, not bunch of spineless idiots who hide behind a smokescreen of media tricks.

Its all good entertainment really I guess, I also guess we are going to see a lot of humble pie eating.. its been the smoking debate, Apartheid south Africa, all over again.. when the evidence, weight of opinion and sheer will just over comes the status quo. - and its last defenders are left looking really, really stupid.

Right now we need a Tsunami of opinion, of action and intention from everyone and we can really tip the scales in our favour. We have to make the change, quit oil, for all that entails as soon as possible, that's it… well that's actually just the beginning, but it's the first decision that needs to be made, say it loud and say it now! Quit Oil!

(just buy more local food, avoid over packaged items, compost if you can, don't waste stuff, insulate your house loads more.. its easy, you know it, but you have to be active about doing it... )

Well since writing this scientists are now revealing that there has been significant jump in atmospheric CO2 this year - main possible reason being that the earth's ability to absorb CO2 (about 50% of we produce is reabsorbed by planet earth) is already starting to be compromised by the higher temperatures.

The clock is ticking and everyday we carry on as normal is a wasted opportunity to respond this accelerating crisis meaningfully.

Meanwhile life goes on all around you….

Sunday, January 14, 2007

View across the newest paths and beds in the veg/ forest garden. In the foreground is the seaweed bed, where we plan to plant out door tomatoes later in teh year, and we have another bed the same, but a lot thicker with sea weed and cardboard layers, where we plant to plant potatoes.  Posted by Picasa

some of the huge pile of mulch materials we gathered from the field this afternoon Posted by Picasa

This garlic was planted out only a week ago and is sprouting already in the warm winter weather. This came from Henry Doubleday via Dawn's Father. Posted by Picasa

An assortment of perennial edible aliums. We love onions and are trying to build up a collection of all the interesting perennial ones. These are most likely to be Alium fistulosum, or welsh bunching onions, which we have grown from seed collected orginally from the roof garden at RISC in Reading. Posted by Picasa

We have really concentrated on propagating a lot more plants this year, so we have a big selection to plant out around the garden. This way we can take a few more chances on where we put them. Plus having the scythe means we can keep bracken and nettles under control a lot more, come the summer when everything goes mad. We have found sage easy to take cuttings from, and this cutting was taken in October and was ready to plant out in December. It has been mulched with woodchip, cardboard and some bog rushes.  Posted by Picasa

Grown from our seed planted in December this little fennel plant was planted out last week from the polytunnel. We hope its going to be hardy enough to get established this winter, and it will create a feature here by the compost toilet.  Posted by Picasa

Here is Dawn with a trench she has dug, close to our compost loo in the field. It has been planted up with comfrey root cuttings, and hopefully willl grow into a thick patch of the stuff. The idea is that its deep roots will bring up nutrients we can use on the veggies as well as mopping up any excess nutirents from the toilet. We shall encourage it to be used as a urinal as well, as comfrey will sort out the all the nitrates in that. Of course rotted comfrey leaves are great plant feed, as both a mulch and rotted down into comfrey liquor. Posted by Picasa

Fluff is always there in the thick of the action when we are out there, with Steve's leg and Dawn in the background Posted by Picasa

the same patch of wetland after the bracken has been scythed.  Posted by Picasa

Here is a patch of dead bracken, ready to be scythed and collected to use as mulch around the fruit trees and raspberry bushes Posted by Picasa

Here is Dawn adjusting the scythe to clear a patch of braken in the wetfield Posted by Picasa